Friday, February 24, 2012

Some thoughts

A few years ago, when by far the majority of people didn't approve of either homosexuals or homosexuality, we were supposed to stay out of the private lives. 10 years of pro homosexual lobbying on TVs, schools, and college campuses later, the same group that said we should stay out of their private lives now wants us to  legislate their private lives, to allow them to get married. Last week, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill in order to allow the voters of New Jersey to vote on the issue, most gay activists said that it was an issue of civil rights, not an issue that should be determined by popularity. 

As I was on the elliptical machine this afternoon, I couldn't help but make this really strange connection. The propaganda that is put out with regard to the recent HHS mandate states that 98% of Catholics have used contraception at one point in their lives. Now, aside from the fact that this figure is nothing more than a HUGE LIE, I will acknowledge that a majority of Catholics use contraception and that the Catholic Church has done a horrible job of explain to people WHY we believe what we believe about artificial contraception and sterilization. Nonetheless, I find it amazing that some of the same journalists and pundits that forward the above gay-marriage argument (gay-marriage is above popular opinion) quickly do a 180 when it comes to the church (Catholic Church should pay for contraception because of popular opinion).  

I believe the Church would actually agree with the gay rights propagandists in saying that marriage shouldn't be a majority vote decision, even if we agree for INCREDIBLY different reasons. But, why are these propagandists then so quick to turn contraception into a voting issue? What happened to the church's conscience protection or the separation of church and state? Are civil rights only to be applied to the individual and their choices and never to the beliefs of the church and what they are asked to support? 

4 comments: said...

I would be curious to know what you mean by “pro homosexuality lobbying.” I have never, in my entire life, heard anyone advocate pro-homosexuality. I have, however, seen the public make moves to humanize the issue – to provide a face to “gay” and to allow LGBT individuals to be seen in the public sphere. This movement came as the result of horrible violence against gay and suspected gay individuals. But, even in my own incredibly gay-affirming circles, I’ve never in my entire life heard anyone advocate “pro homosexuality.” Similarly, the push to “legalize gay,” which I assume you’re referring to, has been largely because of the desire to force governments to see LGBT individuals as human beings worthy of the same legal rights and benefits that normative couples receive. Marriage, as a legal status provided by governments, is not about “staying out of their private lives.” That logic was used previously when homosexuality was illegal in some states, but is quite out of date within the current debate. I think your confusion and misunderstanding is due to the fact that you’re conflating two very different movements, though they are related. In fact, I know many LGBT and LGBT –affirming individuals who do not support legalizing same-sex marriage, because they believe that we should be pushing instead for a move away from that institution. That being said, most pro-marriage equality people would be thrilled to put it to a vote – the majority of Americans support it.

I think that the reason that the HHS mandate discussion has gone the way that it has is due to the fact that a significant majority of Americans (Catholics, and my family included) are shocked at the audacity of the Church to allow the right to use this issue as a political pawn in the way that they have. Logical reasons for the mandate aside, I think the issue you’re speaking to is related to the fact that the Catholic Church’s rabid public position to contraceptives causes a significant amount of cognitive dissonance for most people, either who grew up Catholic or simply know Catholics. In my entire time in catechism classes I was never told of the Church’s position on contraceptives. I was similarly unfamiliar while attending a Catholic university, although quickly learned when I became involved in the reproductive rights movement and petitioned the university to provide referrals to off-site, hospital-owned clinics to students seeking contraceptive information. said...

Point being, my mother used contraceptives. After giving birth to five children she chose to be sterilized – something she did after talking with our priest, who did not attempt to dissuade her. Every female member of my large Catholic family has used hormonal birth control at some point, for various reasons. Nearly every woman in my confirmation class was using hormonal contraceptives when they were confirmed at 18. At least three of us who weren’t had abortions soon after. Point being, clergy seem to have little interest in pressing the issue with their parishioners – they prefer to ignore it or pretend it isn’t happening. Now, maybe St. Jude’s was a particularly sinful parish, but I highly doubt it. Nearly everyone who was raised Catholic can tell countless stories similar to mine.
So when the Church comes out publicly raging against something that had never been seen as an issue in the private lives of Catholics, people are rightly confused. It seems like a political move instead of a spiritual or religious one.

I’m not interested in placing the blame on anyone; I think the whole discussion around this debate has been a PR nightmare, with both sides using factually inaccurate information to support their positions. I, however, would have expected better of the Catholic Church.

I say would have intentionally. After coming out publicly about my own abortion decision I was granted a look at the nastier side of Catholic clergy, Priest for Life in particular. I decided that it was so contradictory to what I had been raised to believe the Church was, that I could no longer associate myself with it. Ironically, had my Catholic university covered my birth control co-pay I probably not have had an abortion in the first place.

If the Catholic Church wants their rules to override the public good and the federal government, then perhaps they should consider walking the walk a bit more deliberately.

Fr.Dennis said...

Hi Katie
First of all, I'm sorry about your decision to leave the Catholic Church. I hope that you'll one day return.

Secondly, you are exactly right in saying that there are an awful lot of priests that have done a disservice to the church by not better explaining why we believe what we believe, myself included. The information is out there and we try to do our best, in particular in the area of marriage preparation but the HHS mandate has really pointed out the effects of two generations of luke-warm priests like the one who taught you and counselled your mother. If you are interested, Pope John Paul II has done a great service to the church in writing "Theology of the Body" which explains in great detail all about Catholic sexual morality and why artificial contraception is immoral.

I would challenge you on one thing. You seem to believe that there's a distinction between the people who push for gay rights in the are of anti discrimination and the people who push for gay rights in the area of gay marriage (or as you call it "marriage equality"). When I listen to commentators on MSNBC and The Daily Show, I don't hear them drawing a distinction. In other words, they see it as part of one big movement, which I call "pro-homosexuality lobbying" because it is, to use the literal meaning of the phrase, lobbying for homosexuality, not in the sense of trying to get more people to be gay but in the sense of trying to get more people to accept the moral legitimacy of homosexuality.

Fr.Dennis said...

So, what's the point, right? The contraception movement went from tolerance in the 50, to acceptance to mandate. In other words, in the 60s contraception was tolerated in individuals lives. Then, it was accepted in the 70's and 80s and completely morally permissible. Now, in 2012, it's mandated that everyone has to accept and pay for everyone's contraception. The gay movement, similarly, has moved it from tolerance by getting rid of sodomy laws. Now it's using gay marriage to move it toward being universally accepted. So, what's next? I'll tell you in 10 years when I'm in jail for refusing to marriage a gay couple.

Just one last thought: What if the issue wasn't entirely that the church hasn't done a good enough job on our PR work. What if the issue was that people don't think the Catholic Church should be allowed have moral teachings different from their own? Would anyone be tolerant of that?